Design Education Talks Ep. 42 – Karel Vredenburg

Karel has spent his professional career dealing with design, technology, human affect, cognition, and behaviour primarily through the human interface to technology. His current interests are in advances in design practice, design-based organisational transformation, the innovation ecosystem (design school, business school, university, entrepreneur, and enterprise), and the ways in which technology can extend, optimise, and improve work, play, relationships, education, health, and overall fulfilment. He is director of design at IBM and responsible for IBM’s global design leadership as well as its global academic programs and serves as the head of IBM Studios in Canada. He’s also Industry Professor at the DeGroote School of Business, the DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, and McMaster University. Karel joined IBM in 1988 after having done graduate studies, research, and teaching at the University of Toronto. He introduced User-Centred Design at IBM in 1993 and assumed a company-wide role in 1995 leading IBM’s community of designers, leading the development of design methods, languages, and technologies, and leading the design of the commercialisation of the IBM Watson. In 2013, Karel help found a new IBM Design program together with General Manager of Design, Phil Gilbert, and IBM Fellow, Charlie Hill. Karel personally introduced the new design program which included Enterprise Design Thinking to IBM product development laboratories worldwide and introduced a tailored version of it to IBM consulting services and technology services organisations worldwide from 2014 through 2016. He next focused on the development and activation of Enterprise Design Thinking for client facing professionals worldwide and rolled that to IBM’s top client accounts in 2017 and 2018. He has also conducted workshops with the c-suite and senior executive teams of hundreds of industry leading companies worldwide as well as with startups, scale-ups, and public organisations. Karel has written over 100 conference and journal publications, a book entitled “User-Centred Design: An Integrated Approach” and contributed chapters to other edited books. He is a frequent keynote speaker and panelist at industry conferences and on university campuses. He co-developed the design thinking programs within the DeGroote School of Business, the DeGroote Health Leadership Academy, and McMaster University and teaches in the Digital Executive MBA program, the Emerging Health Leaders program, and the Innovation by Design pan-university program. Karel together with Don Norman founded the Future of Design Education project which aims to develop a framework of new design curricula for the world of the future. Karel has spent much of his life observing people interacting with others, their world, and their technology; read widely about improving the human condition, optimising the interactions between people, and driving effective organisational change; and has practiced what he’s learned. Karel has undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral level training in Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Human Computer Interaction, has taught university, conducted research, and worked at IBM for more than three decades. He has taught, led, managed, and mentored thousands of people over the years and he shares what he’s learned here on this blog and in his Life Habits Mentoring podcast. Having been vegetarian for 37 years, Karel and his entire family went vegan 6 years ago and created a website to advocate for, outline the benefits of, and provide guidance to adopt a plant-based vegan lifestyle. He also uses his Instagram account for outreach and regularly gets DMs saying that yet another of his followers have been inspired to go vegan from his posts. The views expressed in this blog are Karel’s own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of his employer.

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